A trip to Edinburgh

In 2009, mum and I had so much fun on our trip to Liverpool that we decided to do more trips together. This time we decided to go to the far north, to the lovely city of Edinburgh. It was a bit of a quick decision to go, so the trip we planned was really too short (2 nights) but because we got there early on Oct 14, and left later in the afternoon on the 16th we still had a fair amount of time to see the sights. We had found a nice hotel on Grassmarket (the Apex city hotel) so we were right in the centre of things.

After we had dumped our stuff (hand luggage only!) at the hotel, we had lunch at Café Jacques (nice croque monsieurs), before we started exploring the city. Naturally we did the Royal Mile, Greyfriars Kirkyard (aw, Greyfriairs Bobby!), nearby Analogue books (one of the coolest bookshops ever!), and some of the shops near Princess Street such as Bibi’s Cake Boutique (cupcakes!!). After all that walking, we were pretty tired, but it was too early for dinner, so we had a cup of tea in one of the nice pubs before we went out to “The Outsider” on George IV Bridge. It’s a bit swanky, but perfect to celebrate our trip. It was a shame we didn’t get to sit by a window to see the Castle, but I guess you can’t have it all.

The next morning, we needed a good start, so we had breakfast at the Hula Juicebar, which serves just fabulous granola.

The only thing we had really planned for that day was a tour of Mary King’s Close. OK, it’s quite a touristy thing to do, as you are guided by a person dressed up in 17th century garb and there are some silly jokes, but it was really a lot of fun and we learned a thing or two about the history of Edinburgh. What most amazed me was the architecture of the place and the fact that they had built all that stuff over and around it.

When we got out we strolled around the Royal Mile some more (taking pictures by the castle), stumbled upon the writer’s museum (which we had to visit of course), had a lovely lunch at Hendersons and we also visited the National Gallery, just before they closed to see The Skating Minister by Sir Henry Raeburn. To refuel, we had drinks at Bannerman’s (missed the music unfortunately) and dined on pub food. We then again tried to go to the fiddler’s bar on Grassmarket, but there was again no fiddle or fiddler to be seen, oh well.

On our last day, we hiked up Calton Hill where the Survival of the Fittest race was on (well, it was all around town, but that’s where it was most visible with lots of funky obstacles to be taken on by the participants).

After that, it was time to make our way down to Waverley Bridge to catch a bus to the airport 🙁

But, we’re already thinking about our next trip, which will be three nights at least, and will most likely take us to Oxford 🙂

Surfing in the Netherlands again

It had been a long time since I’d surfed in the Netherlands, and even though it’s not as amazing and by far not as consistent as Costa Rica, there is still a lot of fun to be had. My first taste of Dutch waves in four years was late August 2011 again, at the O’Neill Babes on Waves Day in Camperduin (a place I hadn’t visited before, and well, there’s no reason to go there really if you aren’t going to surf). Anyway, my sister Sara also wanted to revive her surfing skills (she got her first stoke in Spain in 2008 on our holiday together) so on Saturday morning 27 Augustus we hopped onto the train from Amsterdam to Alkmaar, where we took the bus to Camperduin. It was a bit of a bummer that we didn’t see each other for most of the day, as she was back in the beginner’s group, but we were all kept busy quite well. Even when it started raining and thundering and lightning, so we just had a big long theory lesson, before it was safe enough to go out. When we finally did go out, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the waves. I even won the expression session at the end (although I did grab a foamie for that as the waves were going down a bit).

After we had changed and warmed up, there was a dinner in the beach club, after which there was a raffle. Now, this lady never wins anything at a raffle, except this time, and it was also the main prize (a beautiful skateboard). I also met some nice new surf girls, so it was a pretty good day.

On 8 October, another girlie surf fest was held, this time organised by Xooka.nl in Wijk aan Zee. The conditions were very, very different this day. It was for example impossible to see the outside as there were pretty big waves with an enormous amount of whitewater. Add to this some crazy wind, and you’ve got nearly impossible conditions, at least for my level of skill. So after about half an hour my feet were pretty much frozen and I decided to call it a day and try out the hot tub that was waiting for me on the beach 🙂

After the hot tob (which can accommodate about 15 girls at the same time), there was a ding repair workshop and some fun with slack lines and indo boards. When we were completely exhausted, there was food, and a movie. Not bad eh?

Because of these clinics, I’ve now also met some surfer girls in Amsterdam, so we’ve also been going out surfing a few times before work, at least in October. The first time was OK, except for the traffic going back into Amsterdam. After I parked the car, I had to rush to the office, so I sat through all my appointments for the day with the sand still in my hair 🙂 The second time, a week later, it was a lot colder all of a sudden and I was freezing in my 3/2 wetsuit, and for the life of me, I have no idea where I put my 5/3.

But then at Christmas my husband surprised me with a nice new 5/4 wetsuit, so it’s on again! (although I’m writing this from sunny California where I won’t have to wear the gloves and the cap and all that).